Senselessly Slain Teens Leave Behind Reminders of Cruel Fate Faced Daily in New York City Streets

January 2, 2018

For Rohan Levy, the line between life and death came down to a teenage gunman who mistook the 15-year-old boy’s friend for a rival gang member.

The charismatic Brooklyn teen, with his bright smile and exuberant laugh, was joking with two friends just a half block from home when he was mortally wounded by four bullets from a .380-caliber pistol last Feb. 20. One of his friends, police say, was wearing red pants — leading to the incorrect assumption that Rohan’s pal was a Bloods gang member.

Even as crime numbers drop in New York City, many must wrestle with the sad reality that deadly violence could rear its head at nearly any moment. (NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

…. Even as the NYPD reports crime at record lows, in the city’s most underserved communities, violence is a persistent fear.

A 2014-16 study by John Jay College of Criminal Justice focused on men ages 18 to 24 at community centers in Harlem; East New York, Brooklyn; South Jamaica, Queens, and the South Bronx found 43% had been stabbed or shot at.

Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay, said access to weapons among young men inured to violence and living in poverty can lead to deadly results.

“Think about yourself and some dumb things you did when you were a teenager,” said Butts. “And then imagine living in Brownsville and walking around with a pistol in your pocket all the time. You’re 17 years old, you think you’re invulnerable, and you pull that weapon out.”

There may be signs a teenager is prone to violence — poor performance in school, trouble at home, a series of conflicts escalating in severity or arrests involving a gun. But Shea said violence among teenagers over petty conflicts is difficult to predict.

“With kids, it’s really over nothing,” he said. “It’s the Sharks and the Jets. The front of the building versus the back of the building. Keeping up historical beefs. Sometimes kids don’t understand what they’re doing, and by the time they do, it’s too late.”

While some shootings are preceded by snap judgments, others follow long-simmering feuds, conflicts which are often escalated by peer pressure.

“The attitude is, ‘If you hurt one of my people, we have to retaliate,’ ” said Sheyla Delgado, deputy director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay. “It’s not about what I want to do, but how my friends expect me to react.”



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